Jenson Button, McLaren, Silverstone, 2011

FIA offers to drop diffuser restrictions

2011 British Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Jenson Button, McLaren, Silverstone, 2011
Jenson Button, McLaren, Silverstone, 2011

The FIA has offered to remove the restrictions on exhaust-blown diffusers from the German Grand Prix.

A statement released on Saturday afternoon said: “The measures which were communicated to the teams this morning by the FIA Technical Department stand for the rest of the weekend.

“During Saturday morning?s Extraordinary Technical Working Group meeting, the members discussed the viability of returning to the pre-Silverstone set-ups and strategies.

“If the teams are in unanimous agreement, the FIA is prepared to adopt this arrangement until the end of the current season.”

The British Grand Prix weekend has been marred by arguments over new restrictions on exhaust-blown diffusers.

The FIA tried to restrict teams to using no more than 10% of the throttle, when the driver is off-throttle, to blow air into the diffuser.

Charlie Whiting had allowed teams some exceptions from the rules which were then rescinded this morning. Red Bull’s Christian Horner said the new limits put them at a “disadvantage”.

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119 comments on “FIA offers to drop diffuser restrictions”

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  1. FIA are the most inept organisation on the planet for motorsport. They should of just banned it at the end of the season like double deck difuser and F-duct.

    What it should really say is “During Saturday morning’s Extraordinary meeting of stupidity and ever goal changing rules the FIA will u-turn again, lacking all credibility and integrity of their organisation but most of all consistency”

    Absolute joke and another reason to stop watching this joke of a sport.

    1. A reason to stop watching? Come on. This is Formula 1. THIS is the reason why it’s so dam interesting!

      It’s a complete mess and this year has had a pretty rough ride already. But I love that.

      I class this as part of the entertainment. The teams are forced to react whenever the goal posts change. That’s brilliant.

      1. Really? Its interesting to watch one team drive away because they found the best loophole?

        1. And why can’t other teams emulate it? That’s what I want out of the “technically” superior motorsport, a chance for teams to see a rival get further and further away and have to use their brains to catch up somehow.

          1. I’d rather the front teams be reined closer in to the midfield, as that is far more exciting.

        2. It depends on whether or not you only care about who comes first?

          There are many battles to watch in the championship.

    2. FIA are the most inept organisation on the planet for motorsport. They should of just banned it at the end of the season like double deck difuser and F-duct.

      They are banning it entirely at the end of the season. The measures introduced for the British Grand Prix were just an attempt to moderate the grid.

      1. And its made things more interesting! Now only if McLaren could benefit somehow. Alonso could easily win this race if you look how he has performed against the Red Bulls when they have been a second a lap faster than the Ferrari.

        1. Precisely, ivz

          If it enlivens things it should continue. I find no problem with it. Let Horner complain how much he wants to. Let us see his team and Vettel winning from below the front rows. That’s how we know who a true champion is. Winning with the best car from the front row is great but can’t be the only test of skill.One has to perform even without the best machinery or the most favorable circumstances. That’s what sets champions apart and we got to see that from Vettel this season, though I don’t think anyone other than Red Bull will be on the top step this weekend.

      2. Oh gawd, that was his point english teacher, they should not have interfered prior to the end of the season. The FIA have left a poor taste on what should have been a sweet weekend.

  2. Wallbreaker
    9th July 2011, 16:33

    This whole thing is a farce. They should have waited with it until the end of the season. Now they´re having this controversy, only to finally get the solution they could have had without ever causing such kind of rubbish discussions. The only result they get is that they bring the sport in disrepute with it. Wait a minute… Shouldn´t FIA penalise itself for this? lol

  3. Why does this have to be the only “manipulated” race of the year? If it’s not forever but just for this race it’s ridiculous.

  4. Well i think this whole thing was right from the beginning. The problem came to light when they tried to do exeptions to the rule. 10% should be for all, no matter what they had. If the renault have problems cooling the engine well open up more intake to the engine, same goes for mercedes. And if they want to have that for reliability reasons fine, allow it AS LONG AS IT DOES NOT INCREASE THE DOWNFORCE. Move the exauhst away from the diffusor and have you engine mapping then. SO stupid FIA, so stupid

    1. It makes no sense they were warned a month before, it’s like they all turned up not expecting rule change. They’ve had a while to realise they may have to change things on their car since spain!!!

      1. spot on capefear mercedes got some “clarification” pre event fair enough but changing the rules on the friday AND saturday is ridiculose!!!! the teams all knew it was going to happen. Seriously disapointed in the way horner cryed about it. Protest it yes but don’t act like a child and refuse to speak to anyone because you’re upset.

        1. I think he was right to refusemto speak to anyone about it. Complaining to the media would’ve just made him look bad. Instead he confronted the FIA.

          1. I’m not totally sure ( who could be) but I think CH only complained after MacL Merc were given the right to blow unburned fuel into the exhaust.

          2. He didn’t have to complain though he could have just told the media what the situation was. In reguards to protest I ment to the fia not the media and he was obviously right to do that, as any team should protest anything they feel will help them.

      2. These teams have taken a long time to develop the entire cars around the blown diffusers. Everything from the front wing to the airboxes are designed to help the blown diffusers so you think 1 month is enough to redesign the entire car especially as their is no in season testin g allowed?

        The FIA have got this wrong from the start and should have allowed it this season and started the ban from next year. On one hand we have the stupid engine freezes, ban on in season testing and the limits to wind tunnel testing etc to apparently save the teams money, yet on the other they are asking the teams to completely redesign their cars in 1 month!

        Any in season changes to the rules should be for safety reasons only.

        1. Spot on, Lee. A lot of expensive headache for basically no reason.

        2. That’s right Lee,

          But I don’t want to see a predictable Vettel win for every race this season.

  5. streetfighterman
    9th July 2011, 16:41

    FIA are a joke.

  6. 2 options here:

    – FIA has something against the German GP. After last year’s farse, they are now building another stupid argument so it spoils the whole weekend.

    – Or maybe they saw the Red Bulls locking the front row again and said: “meh, nothing changed… why keep going with the restriction then? too much work to control everything… CHARLIE!!! CHARLIEEE! tell the teams we’re going back to where we were in Valencia. Arguments? we don’t need arguments, we’re the FIA!”

    1. FIA are truly making a fool of everyone.

      We’ve seen how the diffuser restrictions have significantly (I hope) reduced Red Bull’s supremacy, so shouldn’t it be kept for the rest of the season? Capefear is absolutely right. FIA under Todt is inefficient in F1 matters.

      Sometimes I feel we need someone like Mosley to assert matters. If everything is left for the teams to decide we’ll have a boring season. What do teh FIA want to see? Boring Vettel running-away-from-the-rest-of-the-field races?

  7. I wonder why did FIA try to solve the relibility problem when the rule started to apply. Why do the teams have all those wellpayed engineers? It is their problem to solve it, and not FIAs. Same thing applied to the Renault when they ruled out mass dampers mid season. It was engineers at Renault that fixed the problem. I hope that some teams object the the removal of the rule. I suppose many teams have lost 2-3 weeks development time on this change. They would problably loose more if they removed the rule.

    1. Snow Donkey
      9th July 2011, 17:41

      Comparing to mass damper is apples and oranges. Also, putting the weight on the engineers does not work, because the FIA have homologated the engines. How they are is how they are.

      1. The engines were homologated way before anyone had even thought of an exhaust blown diffuser so that doesnt really work as an argument. If the problem was cooling related reliability, which it seems to be, then tough, they had long enough to sort out their air intakes.

        1. But it now seems to become clear that teams have been doing things like this for some years now. In the BBC show DC confirmed that years ago, while he was at McLaren, they used to already do that overrun trick to balance the car under breaking. So it isn’t new at all.

    2. Unfortunately the teams have some great engineers but the FIA banned in season testing and limited wind tunnel usage. The engineers can’t test their creations as well mid season which massively hampers their ability.

  8. Another U-Turn from the FiA. You’d think that they’d have learned from Bahrain.

    Disappointing to say the least.

    1. I wonder if the fia offices are an oval :P

    2. Agree. I thought Todt would be a more calm, steely Max like his Ferrari days when he had order and was clearly the boss. He and the FIA seems more of a mouse these days. Max consistently made bad decisions but Todt’s FIA seem incapable of making any decisions at all.

      1. “If the teams are in unanimous agreement, the FIA is prepared to adopt this arrangement until the end of the current season.”

        Looks like they are playing politics to take the attention off themselves. After all, it doesn’t seem very likely that the teams will be able to reach “unanimous agreement” does it?

        1. Yeah was just thinking that to. Unanimous agreement will never happen after williams and sauber qualified so well. Hrt were a second inside 107% and that’s good but actually im not sure they’ve moved much. If narain was still racing i have a feeling he wouldn’t have made the cut lol….

        2. Just imagine the trouble the FIA will be in if the teams actually do agree!

          That would mean they are really serious about taking the sport in their hands and rule it, as neither Todt, nor Bernie will be able to do too much agains their united front!

        3. Is Todt afraid of Horner and the gang?

        4. Bingo, this is the bit I think people have been missing.

          In fact, this isn’t the first time the FIA have played that card is it?

    3. If FIA U-turn any quicker they’ll be doing doughnuts.

  9. As far as I remember the FIA had been talking of nanning it for a while, in fact at Spain the commentators deemed it a forgone fact that it will be banned.

    The teams knew it was coming, they cannot claim to be unfairly surprised by the ruling.

    1. But they were somewhat blindsided by the recent decisions, as in, taken this week(end)! The fact that FIA decided to change their minds at the least shows that Whiting didn’t have all the issues clear before deciding on the ban.

  10. This is ridiculous. Have these diffusers been banned or not? No one seems to know, not even the FIA. Personally, I don’t care whether the cars have them or not, just decide and get on with it.

  11. No leave it alone this is fantastic!

    Williams in the top 10, webber beating seb and fernando challenging for poles and wins.

    We”ll also no doubt get some Hamilton crashing tommorrow. This is what f1 is all about

    1. No, it isn’t about manipulating rules mid-season to prevent the best car/driver combo from winning.

      1. Being “the best” for 19 races can also become extremely monotonous.

  12. If I take the glass half empty approach I’m wondering if they looked at today and think “Red Bull are still in front so may as well not do anything”? (just to be a conspiracy theorist). I have absolutely no idea what is going through their minds but I wish they’d make a decision and stick to it because it’s making a mountain out of a mole hill.

    Glass half full: they’ve seen that mid season rule changes are far from ideal so will wait.

    Probable: the cynical option.

    I don’t agree with mid season rule changes but going from race to race with a different set of rules is even more annoying.

    1. Nicely put. I just hope they learn from this. I mean, changing the restrictions MID WAY through FP2?

      1. I know, what a shambles. To see the pitwalls empty of team principles because they’re all arguing about a rule change not long before qualifying is a joke.

    2. I’m wondering if they looked at today and think “Red Bull are still in front so may as well not do anything”?

      or more specifically that they thought (like most of the media) that it would bring McLaren closer to Red Bull, and once qualifying showed the opposite effect, they changed their tune? It’s hard not to be cynical about the FIA’s decisions when there’s clearly so much politicking going on behind the scenes.

  13. So, how big is the chance of all teams unanimously agreeing on this? HRT, Ferrari? Williams, Virgin?

    Anyone brought good arguments for that? Certainly not Red Bull, who show they are just about as fast as ever without it. Or is that an argument, i.e. it won’t stop them anyhow.

    1. Maybe they were scared to be the bad boys and thought they’d give the teams enough rope to hang themselves? Unlikely but I can’t see any reason for all the flip flapping around.

      1. yes i.think that is in fact the point of this. the teams can’t agree on this so they won’t be able to make the fia rake it back. this is so annoying.

      2. Probably.

        I see this another very big test for FOTA to stick together, and get HRT in on it. If they manage to agree on this, that will mean they have enormous power to form the sport together!

        1. Well then, after convincing HRT, go convince Williams aswell and Ferrari in case they win tomorrow. I reckon its impossible to get all teams in on it but if they can do it .. that would really be nice for the FOTA, thats true.

          1. They could even agree on Cosworth getting data on how to implement it to make them agree, in theory. And maybe someone at McLaren will give Ferrari a copy of their engine map scheme – all in the clear of course.

  14. It is a shame, and for Charlie Whiting too – I’m an admirer of his on the whole but this episode saw him attempting to use a sketchy stretching of the “no movable aerodynamic devices” rule to stop a possible development race – but when was it his job to police the FIA’s aspirations to lower costs? There are already spending constraints in any case, so why the big worry? Rule changes mid-season should only happen on grounds of safety or conceivably (if everyone is agreed) because in some way the racing spectable is being compromised – though you’d never get agreement on that either. So safety only!
    In truth, it’s only the “loopholes” (read: innovations) like the exhaust blown diffusers where we get to see the development races and ingenuity that (should) give F1 its special flavour. With tighter and tighter rules it’s crucial that they are made and then allowed to mature and for responses to them to flourish, as long as they’re safe and not blatantly unfair. Changes mid-season cannot fail to feel political whoever amongst the teams seems to gain or lose. I’m actually no fan of the wanton burning of fuel purely for downforce effects, I think it’s the sort of thing that makes F1 look like it doesn’t give a toss about the world we live in and makes it less relevant to the cars the rest of the world drives, so I’ll be happy to see them gone ASAP, but that’s not before 2012!

    1. Well said Jeremy, but it appears that Renault engines don’t burn any extra fuel, they leave the Butterfly valve half open but cut the fuel supply allowing cool air to be pumped through the cylinders, over the valves and ultimately out over the diffuser. Mercedes by contrast apparently allow fuel to flow but retard ignition so it does not ignite until the exhaust valves are open. Anyone got a better handle on this let’s hear it.

      1. Interesting because I recall Renault Sport earlier in the year touting the fact that their low fuel consumption allowed them to exploit the EBD better than others.

        Scarbs has a good summary but the facts have already become hopelessly obscured by self-serving spin from the teams about what engines are doing what.

      2. Thanks for that, HoHum, it’s a good point and fits with some of the details that have come out over the past couple of days which I’ve been trying to make sense of (and failing)! Well, good for Renault in that case.
        Personally I favour the idea that sometimes comes up of restricting the total fuel allowed during a race. One might even add ballast equivalent to some proportion of the weight of fuel to encourage efficiency. It would address issues like this, help advance technology in a useful fashion, and provide a new area for innovation. Beyond that, freedom to make it work as you wish, with EBDs or whatever you like – the incentive to be fuel-efficient would still be there. As long as we still get to see the best talent in the most innovative and advanced machinery then we should embrace the opportunity to burnish the environmental credentials of F1 (OK, not burnish. Create from scratch)

  15. Sauber, Williams, Ferrari, HRT and Virgin may well decide to keep the new rules, I think this story is just beginning

    1. and why shouldnt they? they were all fine with them and even if their systems were not as sophisticated as those that are complaining Ferrari especially still had to make some changes (im not familiar with the systems on the smaller teams) its not these teams problem if the bigger teams rely on the vast majority of their performance from their exhaust blown diffusers and are reluctant to open up their tiny air intakes to help with the cooling issues these changes might cause.

  16. Jean Todt needs to go.

    1. yes. of course. what a great idea. [sarcastic face]

  17. Admittedly I’m not too well versed on the issue, but as I understand it the conflict comes from Mercedes (engines, not the team) not being able to run their engines under the proposed mapping for reliability purposes. Now, these changes have been in the pipeline for long enough – enough time, anyway, for Mercedes to have shed light on the issue long before this weekend. Maybe they did – I don’t know, but if they didn’t, why not? To try and gain some sort of advantage?

    Either way, this has been handled poorly. Of course, the whole thing could have been avoided in the first place by banning OTBD’s at the end of the year rather than midway through it in an attempt to tighten the field (that’s the cynic in me).

    Of course, the simple answer is to force teams to move their exhaust outlets (straight up like a tractor, as MB said, would be awesome :P) but whether the teams would be able to do that I don’t know.

    In an attempt to be more optimistic, I suppose the FIA should be applauded for trying to eradicate a piece of tech through a small change rather than forcing everyone to do a drastic redesign mid season (á la moving the exhaust outlets) which really would have upset the apple cart, but I really am scraping the barrel there. The way this whole thing’s been dealt with is a mess.

    1. I agree. One week this, one week that and another week we’re back again. The first decision to make the changes mid way through the season was bad enough in my opinion but then to show absolutely no consistency or strength just completely undermines the FIA, Charlie and the sport.

      Benson has just tweeted that so far Williams and Sauber don’t agree for it to be changed back so now we could have the prospect of the F1 teams arguing amongst themselves which will do even more harm.

  18. the reason the fia acted was because there were teams thretning to protest if nothing was done.

    the fia would have had to accept any protest which was launched & since the off throttle blown diffusers are technically illegal the chances are we’d have had a bigger mess than we currently do.

    dont forget that hrt were thretning a protest at monaco and i seem to recall virgin & williams also talking about a protest been a possibility.

    1. But are they illegal, according to recent posts Renault do not do anything to boost exhaust gasses during deceleration , they do leave the butterfly valve open but that has other uses ie. internal cooling of the engine and marginally greater engine braking . Regarding the valve cooling, this is a fuel-saving technology, most car engines used to run a richer mixture than they needed for the same reason which is why cars used to overheat if they had an intake manifold gasket leak leaning out the mixture, the extra air being pumped out of the exhaust is a by-product, it could well be argued.

  19. Now the question arises of what mappings did teams use in qualifying. Now that the rule is lifted can those teams ( if any) that used different mappings in qualy return to prior mappings? Parc ferme rules in effect ?

  20. Sadly, it seems the story is never ending…

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